Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I don't want to screw up this post. I say priceless, and I really really do mean it, as I hope to make it clear. Most people know that I'm a pediatric oncology RN. I LOVE my job. I am passionate about it. I love our patients and families. It is a strange and intimate world on the hematology/oncology/bone marrow transplant unit. Every child is special and no child should have to endure what we make them do... Because some children are in the hospital a lot, or because of various camp experiences, tight bonds often form with the kids and families. For people that know me well, they know that this year was a particularly hard year for me because some of my very favorite kids died from their cancer. Cancer doesn't care if its fair or not. You can do everything possible to try and kill it, and you can do the exact same thing as the person next to you, but the outcomes can be completely different. Here are two of my favorite kiddos that the world is missing now.


Summer 2008 at Camp Side by Side

Jenna was the sweetest girl's girl. She had the best giggle -- it was so pure. Jenna and I became friends at Camp Side by Side in the summer of 2007. Honestly, because so many kids are treated on our floor, its possible to not know all of them. Jenna was one that I did not know of before we became buddies at camp. And what a loyal buddy she was. From there on out she was always seeking me out on the unit. Every time she'd ride by the clusters on her bike she'd call out "Hi Shauna". I loved it. And, Jenna was the slip-n-slide fanatic at camp. Because Jenna wanted to go slip'in and slide'in with me, I had to take it for the team and go in my clothes. I loved every second of it... because it gave me the chance to hear her giggle and squeal with delight.

Slip-n-slide Summer 2007

Jenna had such a giving spirit. I had the opportunity to go over to Jenna's home on Monday night and have dinner with her parents -- Chris and Michelle, and little brother, Braden. It was great to see them and to talk about Jenna and see her room with all the things she loved. Chris and Michelle gave me a gift for Maeve that night -- one of Jenna's doll's. They said that Jenna would have loved for me to have this to give to my new baby. Her name is Susie. I cannot tell you how touching it is to me and I will treasure her.

Baby Susie

And, Ben.

My favorite picture -- December 2008

What can I say about Ben. He stole my heart. How many hours and days did I spend in the hospital as his nurse... so many. His parents, Jeff and Carin are so great. Had we met in any other circumstance we would've been great friends, we decided, but due to the intensity of Ben's treatment and how much time we all spent trying to help the lil' guy get through it, our friendship grew tenfold. Mostly Ben didn't feel well when he was in the hospital so he spent most of the time in his bed playing cars. Oh, how that boy loved his cars... I mean, LOVED. He loved all sorts of cars, but his favorite came from the movie, Cars. Ben also liked organizing his cars in a particular order. You didn't want to mess the order otherwise you'd hear about it! ;-)

Jeff & Carin gave me this Lightening McQueen after Ben died

Playing cars on his bed -- September 2008

Halloween 2007 -- More cars on his bed

Jeff and Carin have given me the gift of bedding for Maeve's crib. At first I thought, oh how nice, that is a great gift and super generous of them. Then Carin explained to me that she wanted to give me the specific gift of bedding because I had made Ben's bed so often and had played with him in his bed at the hospital, and had helped him organize his cars. I so wish that I could help Ben organize his cars still. I will always cherish this gift -- Maeve's bedding holds so much meaning now.

Here's the bedding.. now I need the crib

So -- priceless. Absolutely, without a doubt, priceless. My emotions brim over because of the amazing parents of both Jenna and Ben. How sad that we don't have these two precious kids in our world - plus many many more. Its such a loss. I cannot fathom experiencing the death of a child -- and you couldn't fight harder than these kids and families did. What I find amazing is that in their grief, they are able to think about Maeve. They are so loving and giving to her. I am overwhelmed by their love and kindness.

I hope I did this post justice in articulating how I feel.

This just in. Check out Carin, the rockstar, on the news tonight continuing her fight for her family and other families with children. Watch the video. I LOVE it.


neely said...

amazing...and totally priceless!!

rebekah said...

I am in tears this morning, for these kids and for their parents. I have to hold back sobs if in a slight moment I picture my son in that bed organizing his stuff like Ben.

What a lucky person you are, to help and know children and parents at the most difficult times. You must know the true things about life and know how to feel them. This, honey, is what will help make you an amazing adoptive mom.

Eastiopians said...

What a beautiful and heart-wrenching post. I am saddened and so joyful for those children. I am so glad they lived on this earth and brought such joy and received so much love. What sweet angels they are now. And those parents, well it brings tears to my eyes to think of them. You are an amazing RN and friend to your patients and families Shauna, because you open yourself to receive love from them and let your barriers down. Thanks for a sharing a part of your life with these children on your blog.

Ethioguatemama said...'s hard to think of anything more to say than "wow". How special and priceless. It's obvious what an amazing woman you are, Shauna, and those kids, and especially Maeve are incredibly blessed to have you. Thanks for sharing such a heartwarming and beautiful post.


Chris Westerholm said...

Shauna, thank you so much for that tribute to Jenna. Jenna has touched so many lives, yet there is a huge hole in my life. We appreciate the way you would make Jenna feel like your best friend whenever you would see her. I can remember how she would always ask if we could go see Shauna when we came in for appts or how we could use you as an excuse to get her out of the hospital bed and move around.

You will always hold a special place in our family's hearts. We cannot wait to meet Maeve, she is being blessed with a mother that will love her more than anything in the world. Counting down the days with you...

maryholmquist said...

I, too am touched deeply by Jenna and her family. Chris (Jenna's dad) sent me the link to your blog. I became friends with them at the coffee counter I work at inside Children's. Jenna was such a bright spot in my life and a strong little girl. Yes, her laugh and smile were joyous!!! I keep a photo of her near me in my workspace...I miss her...but her spirit and laughter live on. Thank you for such a touching blog and the great work you do. I wish you all the best with Maeve.

Anonymous said...

Shauna--I enjoy your blog very much. I am vicariously very excited for you and your sweet Maeve. I don't know how you can wait patiently, but it will be worth it.

Thank you also for mentioning Carin. I read her blog daily, and I wanted to know how she and her family were doing. I know that things will never be OK for them again, but she is such a gifted writer that I hope she is continuing to write! They are a remarkable family in so many ways.

My best wishes to you always. Thank you for all you do for your patients, your friends and family, and your readers!

cj said...

you? i love. your honesty, your compassion, your humor, your friendship. people who know you know what's good and true about life. cj

Susan said...

Simply put.....the world needs more people like you, Shauna. You demonstrate God's perfect love....through the world. That IS priceless!

Andy said...

Your post made me cry! We still think fondly of you Shauna and look forward to bumping into you on the 3rd floor whenever we bring Sam in for scan's which is luckily rare now. He is 5 years from diagnosis and doing very well.

Love Andrew, Debra
Sam, Nathan and Lilly Perry

missy said...

what a beautiful tribute. how sweet to know that maeve's bedding is in honor of ben and the impact you made on him and his family. how exciting to know she will be sleeping in it soon!